When I was a kid, my grandmother used to call fiber “roughage.” I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but it sounded painful or at least uncomfortable! The truth of the matter is that fiber in your diet can actually make you feel more comfortable. For one thing, it encourages regular, comfortable bowel movements.
Other benefits of fiber:
- Helps you digest food more slowly; creating the feeling of fullness which prevents overeating
- Slows absorption of sugars; preventing spikes in blood sugar
- Cleans out toxins from your colon
- Generates prebiotics, which supports the good bacteria in your stomach
Fiber can also decrease your risk of certain diseases. Studies have shown that people who eat more fiber are less likely to get colon or breast cancer, heart disease, or gastrointestinal disorders.
When adding fiber to your diet, it’s a good idea to start off slowly and be sure to drink plenty of water. Try some of the ideas below. You can easily add these fiber-rich foods to your favorite recipes or swap out some of the ingredients for the more fiber-friendly option.
Easy Ways to Get More Fiber in Your Diet
Eat whole-grain foods like brown rice, whole wheat bread or pasta in place of refined or processed grains.
- Oatmeal: choose old-fashioned (rolled oats) or steel-cut oats
- Rice: different colored rice has more nutrients—wild rice, red rice, or forbidden rice, a type of black rice that is high in antioxidants
- Cook with low-sodium broth, spices or dried herbs
- Add a healthy sauce or dressing to cooked rice for extra flavor
- Quinoa: experiment and try quinoa (any color)
- Cooks quickly: 15-20 minutes
- Before cooking, rinse quinoa well in a fine strainer to wash off the natural coating
Eat more fruits and vegetables. If edible, eat the skin. There are lots of fiber and nutrients there. Aim for 5-10 servings a day; more veggies than fruit.
Add legumes into your diet like beans (black, kidney, garbanzo, edamame), lentils, and peas. Some recipes ideas would include vegetarian chili, homemade soups, bean or lentil salad, Mexican or Indian food.
Snack on nuts and seeds. All types of nuts are a great source of fiber and other key nutrients. Try having a few handfuls as your daily snack. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), ground flax seeds or chia seeds also make great snacks to take on-the-go.
Takeaway: plant foods (vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds) are rich in fiber. Eating a variety of these foods on a daily basis will ensure that you’re getting a healthy dose of fiber – or roughage, as my grandma would say.
Author: Lisa Henderson, MS, RDN